China’s exports rose strongly in January from a year earlier, in a possible sign of recovery in external demand for goods from the world’s second-largest economy. Exports jumped 7.9% in January from a year earlier, following a 6.1% drop in December, the General Administration of Customs said Friday. Exports had been forecast to grow 3.1% according to a median estimate of 11 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The figures suggest that China’s overseas shipments are improving modestly as global trade shows signs of picking up. Imports in January surged 16.7% from a year earlier, compared with 3.1% growth in December. The rise was larger than the poll’s median forecast for a 10.0% gain. China’s trade surplus widened in January to $51.35 billion from $40.82 billion the previous month, exceeding a median forecast for a $50 billion surplus.